Diocese Attorneys Ask Judge to Toss Lawsuit Involving Former Elyria Priest

By Brad Dicken
The Chronicle-Telegram
August 3, 2011

ELYRIA Attorneys for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, former Bishop Anthony Pilla and two other Catholic institutions have asked a county judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by the sexually abused victim of a former priest once based in Elyria.

The victim, who was 15 when Patrick O'Connor began abusing him in 1997, filed the lawsuit last month. The court documents filed on behalf of the diocese said that it was well past the statute of limitations in which a lawsuit can be filed because the victim didn't sue within two years of turning 18 in 1999.

The church's attorneys rejected arguments from the victim's attorneys that he didn't learn about the full psychological damage that had been done to him until later. An attorney for the victim, who is now 29, said his client has had sexual and substance abuse issues as well as other emotional problems that are a result of his treatment at O'Connor's hands.

Attorneys for the church also argued that the church shouldn't be held liable for sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress or corruption of a minor, all allegations contained in the lawsuit, because O'Connor, not the other entities being sued, was the one who sexually abused the victim.

O'Connor, 53, pleaded guilty to corruption of a minor in 2009 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of probation. He apologized to his victim during the sentencing hearing.

According to the lawsuit, O'Connor was assigned to St. Jude Church in Elyria when he met the teen on the basketball court at a playground near the church rectory.

The lawsuit said that O'Connor began molesting the boy and even took him on a trip to St. Borromeo Seminary during their relationship.

O'Connor resigned from the church after the teen contacted the diocese in June 2008 to report the sexual abuse. O'Connor had been serving as chaplain to the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, both in Euclid, at the time.

O'Connor resigned as chaplain of the Elyria Police Department after the first allegations came to light.

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